West Indian Limestone Scrub

These sclerophyllous shrublands occur on the dry limestone terraces and lowland karstic ‘dog tooth’ formations. In Cuba extensive stands occur in Oriente between Puerto Padra and Gibara and in the southern terraced coast between Cabo Cruz and Maisi where the climate generally has two dry seasons totaling about 8 months per year.  This formation rarely exceeds 3 m in height but is very rich in species. Characteristic small trees are Colubrina elliptica, Erithalis fruticosa and several endemics like Auerodendron cubense (Rhamnaceae), Cordia leucosebestena (Boraginaceae), Diospyros grisebachii (Ebenaceae), Picrodendron macrocarpum (Picrodendraceae), Pseudocarpidium multidens (Verbenaceae) and Spirotecoma spiralis (Bignoniaceae). Elements of the sub shrub layer include various species of Cordia such as the endemic Cordia lucidus (Euphorbiaceae), together with Eugenia cowellii, Polygala guantanamana and many endemic species such as Bellonia spinosa (Acanthaceae), Coccothrinax munizii (Arecaceae), Grimmeodendron eglandulosum (Euphorbiaceae), Jacquinia berteroi (Theophrastaceae) and Randia spinifex (Rubiaceae). Of the succulents, several Melocactus species occur together with the endemic Dendrocereus nudiflorus (Cactaceae), but herbs and epiphytes are few in number. Lianas are more conspicuous with about 30 species including the endemic Distictis lactiflora (Bignoniaceae), Jacquemontia jamaicensis (Convolvulaceae) and Passiflora santiagana (Passifloraceae).

West Indian Serpentine Scrub

In Cuba these formations occur on the red ferrallitic soils derived from serpentine in several places from the Cajabana Hills to the Holguin serpentine areas in the Oriente. The area is subject to one dry season lasting up to 6 months. Characteristically the vegetation forms a dense, 2-4 m high, closed scrub with sporadic emergent palms up to 6 m, but apart from Melocactus species cacti are absent. Many of the common species, such as Annona bullata (Annonaceae), Coccothrinax miraguama (Areaceae), Eugenia camaricoa (Myrtaceae), Malpighia nummulariifolia (Malpighiaceae), Neobracea valenzuelana (Apocynaceae), Passiflora cubensis (Passifloraceae), Phyllanthus orbicularis (Euphorbiaceae), Rondeletia camarioca (Rubiaceae) and Tabebuia lepidota (Bignoniaceae) are endemic. In the dryer areas north of the Moa Mountains a different assemblage of species can be found. This ancient endemic flora is thought to have originated from Moa and then moved along the coast in both directions. In places 85 % of the species are endemic - common examples include Acrosynanthus minor (Rubiaceae), Ceuthocarpus involucratus (Rubiaceae), Coccoloba nipensis (Polygonaceae), Hemithrinax savannarum (Arecaceae), Kodalyodendron cubensis (Rutaceae), Moacroton leonis (Euphorbiaceae), Phyllanthus comosus (Euphorbiaceae), Shaferocharis multiflora (Rubiaceae) and Tabebuia linearis (Bignoniaceae). In the herb layer Rhynchospora species, Paepalanthus brittonii and the endemic Machaerina cubensis (Cyperaceae) are found. A different formation is associated with the serpentine semi-arid upland areas in Cristal, Moa and Nipe mountains of Cuba and unlike the sclerophyllous shrub forest or thickets on the slopes of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica; these scrublands are regarded as edaphic climax communities. In the Moa the formation consists of a dense bush of shrubs and stunted trees up to about 6 m tall and reaches its best development between altitudes of about 600-1000 m. The vast majority of species is endemic and typically includes Acrosynanthus trachyphyllus (Rubiaceae), Clusia moaënsis (Hypericaceae), Ilex hypaneura (Aquifoliaceae), Illicium cubensis (Illiciaceae), Jacaranda arborea (Bignoniaceae) and Laplaca moaënsis (Theaceae). Epiphytes are rare, but sclerophyllous lianas abound including various endemics like Feddea cubensis (Asteraceae) and Morinda moaensis (Rubiaceae). The herb layer is poorly developed but may include several species such as the endemic grass Ekmanochloa aristata (Poaceae).

West Indian Cactus Scrub

Scrub dominated by cacti is an integral part of the coastal semi-desert formation of the Caribbean. On Cuba cactus scrub forms an unbroken belt along the coast from Guantánamo Bay to Imias. Succulents, mainly cacti, are dominant in both the shrub and sub-shrub layers, but the constituent species depend on whether the soil is rocky or sandy. On the latter Opuntia dillenii, Cylindropuntia histrix, Rithereocereus histrix and the endemic Opuntia militaris and Rhodocactus cubensis (Cactaceae) are dominant. Most of the associated trees and shrubs belong to the families Caesalpiniaceae, such as the endemic Caesalpinia pinnata, and Capparidaceae, such as Capparis flexuosa. The sparse herb layer is mainly composed of grasses.  Dominant cacti of more rocky conditions are mainly endemic species such as Consolea macrantha, Dendrocereus nudiflorus and Pilosocereus brooksianus (Cactaceae). The shrub layer also includes a variety of other endemic species including several emergent palms such as Coccothrinax hiorami and C. alexandri (Arecaceae). The herb layer includes other succulents such as the endemic Agave albescens (Agavaceae) and Melocactus acunae (Cactaceae).

West Indian Sclerophyll Thicket

On the leeward St Andrews slopes of the Blue Mountains the vegetation changes abruptly to sclerphyllous thicket at about 700 m and then continues up to the mist forest at about 1200 m. This zone appears to be unique to the West Indies. Two characteristic shrubs confined to this zone on Jamaica are Dodonea viscosa, a small hardwood shrub found throughout the Pacific, and the endemic mountain broom Baccharis scoparia (Asteraceae).  Other shrubs include Clusia rosea, Lantana involucrata, Solanum verbascifolium and several endemic species such as Heterotrichum umbellatum (Melastomataceae) and Lyonia jamaicensis (Ericaceae). Also characteristic of this zone are a number of small trailing woody herbs like Coccocypselum herbaceum, Micromeria obovara, Relbunium hypocarpium and the two endemics Chusquea albietifolia (Poaceae)a climbing bamboo, and Manettia lygistum (Rubiaceae). Typical herbs are Bidens pilosa, Cordia cyclindrostachya, Flemingia strobilifera, Gnaphalium americanum and Leianthus longifolius.

West Indian Limestone Forest

In Jamaica these sparse scrub forests are confined to arid southern areas with possibly some of the most undisturbed areas on the Portland Ridge.  With virtually no soil the plants find support and sustenance by developing long branched root systems that permeate cracks and crevices. The more disturbed areas lack any distinct stratification but those of Portland Ridge have three stories including emergents reaching 25 m, a canopy between 12-20 m and a sub-canopy of 6-10 m. Among the emergent species are Chlorophora tinctoria, Pisonia fragrans and the endemic Rhamnidium jamaicense (Rhamnaceae), while canopy and sub canopy species include Adelia ricinella, Albizzia berteriana, Anona squamosa, Bauhinia divaricata and a variety of Jamaican or West Indian endemics taxa like Bourreria succulenta (Boraginaceae), Brya ebenus (Fabaceae), Bumelia rotundifolia (Sapotaceae), Coccoloba krugii (Polygonaceae), Erythroxylon rotundifolium (Erythroxylaceae), Linociera ligustrina (Oleaceae), Ocotea jamaicensis (Lauraceae) and Oxandra lanceolata (Annonaceae). Most of the trees are thin boled and spindly with branches close to the ground. The shrub layer is well developed with many Jamaican or West Indian endemics such as Allophyllus pachyphyllus (Sapindaceae), Casearia nitida (Flacourtiaceae), Castela macrophyllus (Simaroubaceae), Eupatorium dalea (Asteraceae), Helicteres jamaicensis (Sterculiaceae), Phyllanthus angustifolius (Euphorbiaceae), Portlandia grandiflora (Rubiaceae) and Psidium albescens (Myrtaceae). Climbing and scrambling plants are also well represented but true lianas are absent. Some of the endemic species include Galactia pendula (Fabaceae), Ipomoea jamaicensis (Convolvulaceae), Passiflora perfoliata (Passifloraceae), Paullinia barbardense (Sapindaceae), Smilax balbisiana (Smilacaceae) and Stigmaphyllon emarginatum (Malpighiaceae). Epiphytes are mainly composed of xerophytic bromeliads, cacti and orchids including the endemic Broughtonia sanguinea (Orchidaceae). A ground flora, on the other hand, is often absent but may include a few ferns, cacti and several non-succulent flowering plants such as the endemic Vernonia divaricata (Asteraceae). In Cuba the limestone or karstic forests are varied but can be extremely species-rich, and endemic taxa are estimated to account for about 40% of their flora. On the karst slopes of Sierra de los Organos they form open forests up to about 8 m tall. Characteristic trees include the barrel-like Gaussia princeps and many endemic tree-shaped species such as Bourreria polyneura (Boraginaceae), Ekmanianthe actinophylla (Bignoniaceae), Ophalea hypoleuca, Sapium leucogynum (Euphorbiaceae) Spathelia brittonii (Rutaceae), Thrinax punctulata (Arecaceae) and the interesting living fossil Microcycas calocoma (Cycadaceae). Succulents are also well represented with endemic species like Agave tubulata (Agavaceae), Leptocereus assurgens and Selenicereus grandiflorus (Cactaceae), while ianas include the endemic Philodendron urbanianum (Araceae) and Siemensia pendula (Rubiaceae).  There are other species that can be broadly described as chasmophytes including the endemic Anthurium venosum (Araceae), Gesneria celsioides (Gesneriaceae), Peperomia verticillata (Piperaceae) and Rhytidophyllum rupincola (Martyniaceae).

West Indian Seasonal Rainforest

In Jamaica these wetland forest are mainly found in inland areas at altitudes ranging from about 300-700 m with large stands occurring in the so-called Cockpit country and on limestone peaks such as Mount Diablo and Dolphin Peak. Most of the trees are evergreen and usually form two tiers but with occasional emergents such as the endemic Terminalia latifolia (Combretaceae) reaching heights of 30 m or more. The canopy, which is up to 20 m tall, is typically closed but never dense. Characteristic species include Brosimum alicastrum, Buchenavia capitata, Cecropia peltata, Dipholis nigra, Lacuma mammosa, Mimusops excisa, Pithecellobium arborea, Podocarpus purdieanus, Prunus occidentalis, Zanthoxylum martinicense and the endemic Nectandra antillana (Lauraceae), Psidium montanum (Myrtaceae), Sloanea jamaicensis (Elaeocarpaceae) and Zizyphes chloroxylon (Rhamnaceae). The dense sub-canopy which reaches heights of about 12 m comprises its own characteristic species such as Simaruba glauca, Trophis racemosa, Zanthoxylum flavum and several endemic species like Antirrhoea jamaicensis (Rubiaceae), Comocladia pinnatifolia (Anacardiaceae), Lagetta lagetto (Thymelaeaceae), Mosquitoxylon jamaicensis (Anacardiaceae), Ocotea staminea (Lauraceae), Sapium jamaicense (Euphorbiaceae) and Spathelia glabrescens (Rutaceae). However, the shrub and field layers are sparse and in places completely lacking due to the rocky substratum. The few shrubs may include Piper nigrinodum, several Melastomaceae and the endemic species Acidoton urens (Euphorbiaceae) and Carica jamaicensis (Caricaceae), while endemic components of the herb layer may include Gyrotaenia spicata (Urticaceae), Peperomia amplexicaulis (Piperaceae) and Pilea ciliata (Urticaceae). Lianas and other climbers are common especially climbing aroids with their characteristic long, thin, hanging roots, which can be seen throughout these forests. Among the many epiphytes, bromeliads are frequent and include a number of endemic species like Hohenbergia distans and H. eriostachya (Bromeliaceae). Other bromeliads of the genus Tillandsia are tree trunk epiphytes. Seasonal rain forests are also extensive in the Antilles, but in Cuba they are now of very limited extend because of the importance of these areas to tropical agriculture. The few Cuban forests left are also two canopy systems but also include large emergent stands of the deciduous Ceiba pentandra which can reach heights of 40 m. Other canopy species include Bucida buceras, Guazuma ulmifolia, Mastichodendron foetidissimum and Roystonia regia together with endemics like Lonchocarpus domingensis (Fabaceae), Oxandra lanceolata (Annonaceae) and Pithecellobium cubense (Fabaceae).

West Indian Semi-Deciduous Forest

These forests are widespread in the Antilles. They are prominent, for example, in western hills of Cuban where the dry season can last up to six months. Here they have two canopy layers. The upper reaches heights of 25 m and is dominated by deciduous trees, while the lower one with heights up to 12 m is composed exclusively of evergreens. Prominent species of the upper canopy are Andira inermis, Bursera simaruba, Cedrela mexicana, Mastichodendron foetidissimum, Zanthoxylum elephantiasis and various endemics like Bombacopsis cubensis (Bombacaceae), Casasia calophylla (Rubiaceae), Ficus crassinervis (Moraceae), and Pithecellobium cubense (Fabaceae). In the second layer Amyris balsamifera, Diospyros crassinervis, Krugiodendron ferreum, Picramnia pentandra and the endemic Ateleia cubensis (Fabaceae) and Savia sessiliflora (Euphorbiaceae) are common.  Lianas are well represented especially those with xerophytic microphylls such as the endemic Platygyne hexandra (Euphorbiaceae) and Securidaca elliptica (Polygalaceae), but the epiphytic flora is depauperate and can only be found in abundance on emergent trees where they are mainly represented by drought resistant Tillandsia species. The herb layer is also poorly developed and completely lacking in places.

West Indian Marsh Forest

In Jamaica these are mainly limited to the upper reaches of the Black River. Their closed canopy reaches to a height of about 10 m and is usually dominated by the hog gum Symphonia globulifera, which exudes a yellow gum from its aerial roots when cut. Marsh palms are also common including Calyptronoma swartzii and the endemic Roystonea princeps (Arecaceae), while other trees include Calophyllum jacquinii, Haematoxylon campechianum, Piscidium piscipula, Spondias monbin and the endemic Grias caulifera (Lecythidaceae). Aroides and orchids dominate the rich epiphytic flora but bromeliads are rare.

West Indian Shale Forest

The lower shales of Jamaica were once covered in forest, but only remnants of these remain in places such as the Blue Mountains. In the lower stream valleys the dominant trees include Cecropia peltata, Cedrela odorata, Ceiba pentandra, Chlorophora tinctoria, Chrysophyllum ovaliforme, Ficus wilsonii, Ochroma pyramidala, Zanthophyllum flavum and the endemic Catalpa longissima (Bignonaceae). However, the sparser forests of the adjacent slopes are mainly characterised by small trees such as Andira inermis, Crescentia cujete, Guazuma ulmifolia, Hura capitans, Spondias purpurea together with several endemic species like Celtis trinervia (Ulmaceae), Guarea glabra (Meliaceae), Senecio discolor (Asteraceae) and Spathelia sorbifolia (Rutaceae). The ground flora includes Betia purpurea, Bidens cynapiifolia, Piper umbellatum and the endemic Anclepias nivea (Ascelpiadaceae) and Peperomia verticillata (Piperaceae).

West Indian Montane Rain Forest

In Jamaica remnants of these largely evergreen forests can be found in the Blue Mountains and the John Crow Mountains. They show little evidence of stratification but occasional huge emergent trees occur reaching heights of up to 35 m. The main canopy reaches about 25 m, while an ill-defined lower canopy ranges from 10-20 m. Among the main emergent trees Ficus suffocens and Psidium montanum have large buttresses, while Syphonia globulifera has stilt roots. The main canopy and sub-canopy trees include Callophyllum jacquinii, Clethra occidentalis, Cyrilla racemiflora, Exothea panniculata, Matayba apetala, Prunus occidentalis and a series of endemic taxa such as Eugenia distica (Myrtaceae), Ocotea martinicensis (Lauraceae) and Oxandra laurifolia (Annonaceae). The shrub layer from 3-6 m is usually sparse due to poor light but still supports a good variety of endemic species like Blakea trinervia (Melastomataceae), Columnea hirsuta (Rhamnaceae), Hedyosmum arborescens (Chloranthaceae), Piper discolor (Piperaceae), Psychotria pedunculata (Rubiaceae) and Rytidophyllum grande (Gesneraceae). Tree ferns are infrequent but may include Alsophila swartsiana, Ctenicis villosa and Cyathea tussacii. Lianas are also uncommon but there are many small vines such as the endemic Marcgravia brownei (Marcgraviaceae). Epiphytes, on the other hand, are prolific but bromeliads are mainly confined to the higher tree branches, while epiphytic bryophytes, ferns (such as the endemic Trichomes scandens), and orchids dominate the lower strata. The forest floor is typically covered in ground ferns but may also include a variety of flowering plants such as the endemic Lobelia acuminata (Campanulaceae), Peperomia crassicaulis (Piperaceae), and the root parasite Scybalium jamaicensis (Balanophoraceae). Montane or sub-montane forests can also be found in Cuba on the Moa Mountains and in the Duaba, Jaguani and Toa basins. They are dominated by Calophyllum utile and Carapa guinensis and typically have a three-layered tree structure. The upper layer tends to be monopolized by Carapa guinensis, which with its large plank buttresses can reach heights of 35 m. The fully closed middle layer includes Calophyllum utile, Sloanea curatellifolia and Dipholis jubilla and reaches about 25 m, while between the second and third canopy layers a number of palms reach their maximum stature including several endemic species like Bactris cubensis, Calyptronoma clementis and Prestoea montana (Arecaceae). The third layer, which reaches about 15 m, is very rich in species and includes several endemic trees such as the large-leaved Cordia sulcata (Boraginaceae) and Oxandra lanceolata (Lauraceae), a number of tree ferns, and the endemic, tree-sized herbaceous species Heliconia caribaea (Strelitziaceae). There are also a number of macrophyllous lianas. The epiphytic flora includes an upper layer dominated by flowering plants such as the endemic Columnea tincta (Gesneraceae) and Hohenbergia penduliflora (Bromeliaceae), and a lower layer comprising mainly ferns. In the sparse shrub layer Cassipourea elliptica and species of Melastomataceae are abundant, while ferns mainly dominate the herb layer.

West Indian Montane Serpentine Forest

This represents the climax vegetation in the Crystal and Moa mountains of Cuba roughly between 400-900 m contour where precipitation can reach 3200 mm per annum and there is no dry season. They form a double canopy system comprising mainly sclerophyllous and lauraceous trees. The upper canopy, which reaches heights of up to 22 m, includes Calophyllum utile, Dipholis jubilla and a variety of endemics such as Bonnetia cubensis (Bonnetiaceae), Hyeronima nipensis (Euphorbiaceae), Pinus cubensis (Pinaceae), Podocarpus ekmanii (Podocarpaceae), Spathelia pinetorum (Rutaceae), Talauma minor (Magnoliaceae) and Tapura cubensis (Dichapetalaceae). In the shrub layer the typical species are mainly composed of endemic taxa like Moacroton ekmanii (Euphorbiaceae), Psychotria moaënsis (Rubiaceae) and Rauvolfia salicifolia (Apocynaceae). However, due to the relative openness of these forests the epiphytic flora is poorly developed, but includes a number of small orchids such as the endemic Dinema cubincola (Orchidaceae), while shade-tolerant species are largely absent. By contrast a diverse assemblage of lianas are present including several endemic species like the bamboo Chusquea abietifolia (Poaceae), Platygyne obovata (Euphorbiaceae) and Schradera cubensis (Rubiaceae). The herb layer varies but in the more humid areas a luxuriant carpet of herbs and mosses may be present.

West Indian Montane Mist Forest

On Jamaica mist envelopes the upper reaches of the Blue Mountains on a daily basis for at least six hours providing extremely humid conditions. The associated dark, wet, evergreen forest, some times referred to as a mossy forest, has been described as “the most peculiar vegetation imaginable”. It extends in a altitudinal zone from about 1000 -1500 m.  Emergent tree are few and the low canopy rarely exceeds 15 m. There may also be a sub-canopy of varying density reaching about 10 m. Most of the trees tend to be spindly with bushy crowns and buttresses and cauliflory is generally absent. The dominant trees are Cyrilla racemosa and Podocarpus urbani, but many other species may be encountered including a variety of endemics like Clusia havetioides (Hypericaceae), Eugenia marchiana (Myrtaceae), Laplacea haematoxylon (Theaceae), Rhamnus sphaerosperma (Rhamnaceae), Solanum punctulatum (Solanaceae), Turpinia occidentalis (Staphyleaceae) and Viburnum villosum (Caprifoliaceae). Tree ferns are common including Cyathea nigrescens, Lophosoria quadripinnata, Marrattia alata and Ortheopteris domingensis, but palms are absent. The shrub layer in general tends to be scattered, rarely reaching more that about 3 m, but nevertheless includes many endemic species such as Psychotria corymbosa (Rubiaceae) and a variety of melastomaceous species like Mecranium purpurascens, Meriania leucantha and Miconia rubens (Melastomataceae). Lianas are rare but there are many climbing, scrambling and epiphytic shrubs. Endemic species among these include Cassia viminea (Caesalpiniaceae), Cionosicys pomiformis (Cucurbitaceae), Passiflora pendulifera (Passifloraceae) and Schradera involucrata (Rubiaceae). The more typical epiphytes are very abundant with bromeliads, like Thecophyllum sintensii and Tillandsia incurva, and a variety of orchids such as the endemic Lepanthes tridentata (Orchidaceae), but it is bryophytes that predominate virtually covering every tree trunk and branch. This is also true for the field layer but in addition there are many peperomias and pileas and ferns such as the endemic Blechnum lineatum (Blechnaceae) and Danca jamaicensis (family?). In Cuba these forests mainly occur above 800 m on Sierra Maestra, Sierra del Purial and the Escambry Mountains. Here they are dominated by the endemic Magnolia cubensis (Magnoliaceae) and various species of Ocotea such as the endemic Ocotea leucoxylon (Lauraceae). These trees reach heights of about 25 m and below this a sub canopy can usually be characterized by Clusia tetrastigma, Gomidesia lindeniana and several endemic species like Garrya fadyenii (Garryaceae) and Ossaea ottoschmidtii (Melastomataceae). The epiphytic flora is very rich and includes an upper layer dominated by orchids and bromeliads such as the endemic Guzmania erythrolepis (Bromeliaceae) and a lower layer of ferns, mosses and liverworts. Also rich in species are the shrub and herb layers with many endemic species such as Pilea clarana (Urticaceae) and Psychotria martii (Rubiaceae).  At elevations between 1600-1900 m on Sireea Maestra and the high mountains of Pico Turquino and Pico Bagamesa rainfall can exceed 3200 mm per annum and here the forests are extremely mossy with nearly 40 species of moss recorded. The soil, branches and lower foliage are covered in an unbroken carpet of bryophytes. The low canopy is characterized by various endemic species such as Eupatorium paucibracteatum (Asteraceae), Myrsine microphylla (Myrsinaceae), Nectandra reticularis (Lauraceae), Persea anomala (Lauraceae), Sapium maestrense (Euphorbiaceae), Symplocos leonis (Symplocaceae), Torralbasia cuneifolia (Celastraceae) and several tree ferns like Cyathea minor. The shrub layer forms an almost impenetrable bush tangled with pteridophytic lianas like Dennstaedtia and Odontosoria. Shrub layer species include a variety of endemics such as Cordia longipedunculata (Boraginaceae), Duranta fletcheriana (Verbenaceae), Hedyosum cubense (Chloranthaceae), Henriettea ekmanii, Miconia turquinensis (Melastomataceae) and Scolosanthus maestrensis (Rubiaceae). Ferns and lycopods dominate the herb layer while the epiphytic flora is rich in small, endemic orchids such as Lepanthes ekmanii and Stelis cubensis (Orchidaceae). 

West Indian Elfin Woodlands

In Jamaica these stunted woodlands are found on the exposed summits and northern ridges of the Blue Mountains and on the wet slopes of the John Crow Mountains. Most start an altitude of about 900 m but on the John Crow Mountains they can be as low as 700 m. They largely comprise open woodlands of gnarled and twisted trees laden with mosses and other epiphytes, and in some cases trees may be hidden under a verdant mass of epiphytes. The canopy rarely exceeds 6 m and only one woody stratum occurs. Dominant trees are the endemic Clethra alexandri (Clethraceae) and Clusia havetioides (Hypericaceae). Some trees, such as Clusia, have fleshy leaves while others like the endemic Eugenia alpina (Myrtaceae) have small, coreiaceous leaves. Common shrubs are Palicourea crocea, Sciadophyllum brownei and the endemic Ilex obcordata (Aquifoliaceae).  The field layer includes many mist forest species including a number of peperomias, Lycopodium cericum and the endemic Pilea parietaria (Urticaceae). In addition to festooning most of the trees, mats of bryophytes on tree trunks provide niches for numerous other epiphytes especially ferns, lichens, bromeliads and orchids, but also various other taxa such as the endemic Besleria lutea (Gesneriaceae). In Cuba, elfin woodland appears to be confined to Pico Turquino, the highest mountain of Sierra Maestra. They are mainly composed of a dense bush of stunted, microphyllous, nanophyllous, evergreen trees and shrubs. Many of these are endemic and include Ilex turquinensis (Aquifoliaceae), Lobelia cacuminis (Campanulaceae), Myrica cacuminis (Myrtaceae), Peratanthe cubensis (Rubiaceae) and Viburnum villosum (Caprifoliaceae). However, on steeper, rocky slopes they give way to a community dominated by the endemic Agave pendentata (Agavaceae) and Mitracarpus acunae (Rubiaceae). Other species found here include various endemic shrubs such as Eugenia maestrensis (Myrtaceae) and Juniperus saxicola (Cupressaceae). There is also a rich variety of lianas, sub shrubs and orchids with many small, normally epiphytic orchids, such as the endemic Lepanthopsis microlepanthes (Orchidaceae), rooted in a moss carpet. Other endemic herbs include Chaptalia turquinensis (Asteraceae).

West Indian Palm Forest

Forests dominated by the palm genus Prestoea are found on a number of Caribbean islands including Dominica, Grenada, Nevis, Puerto Rico, St Kitts, St Vincent and the larger islands of the Greater Antilles. They are mainly confined to marshy or waterlogged areas. In the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico they are dominated by the endemic palm Prestoea montanus (Arecaceae). Other associated trees are mainly endemic species such as Antirhea obtusifolia (Rubiaceae), Byrsonima wadsworthii (Malpighiaceae), Calycogonium squamulosum (Melastomataceae), Cordia borinquensis (Boraginaceae), Croton poecilanthus (Euphorbiaceae), Dacryodes excelsa (Burseraceae), Eugenia boringuensis (Myrtaceae), Meliosma herbertii (Sabiaceae), Micropholis chrysophylloides (Sapotaceae), Ocotea spathulata (Lauraceae), Sloanea berteriana (Elaeocarpaceae), Tabebuia rigida (Bignonaceae) and Ternstroemia heptasepala (Theaceae).  Vines are present in small numbers but include several endemic species such as Marcgravia sintenisii (Marcgraviaceae), Philodendron scandens (Araceae) and Securidaca virgata (Polygalaceae. Ground layer herbs are also infrequent but include endemic taxa like Erythrodes plantaginea (Orchidaceae), Pilea krugerii (Urticeae), Piper swartzianum (Piperaceae), Selaginella krugii (Selaginellaceae) and ferns such as the endemic Thelypteris detoidea (Thelypteridaceae).

West Indian Coniferous Forest

These are mainly confined to nutrient-poor acidic soils either as subclimax or paraclimax communities on ferritic soils. In Cuba they are restricted to the eastern and western ends of the island and may be dominated by one of three endemic pines: Pinus caribaea, P. cubensis or P. tropicalis (Pinaceae). Pinus caribaea forest is the para climax community on yellow, quartz-allitic and serpentine soils of the Cajalbana Hills. Among the many associated species are endemic taxa such as Acunaeanthus tinifolius (Rubiaceae), Anemia cajalbanensis (Anemiaceae), Coccothrinax yuraguana (Arecaceae), Herpyza grandiflora (Fabaceae), Lescaillea equisetiformis (Asteraceae), Lyonia myrtilloides (Ericaceae), Phania cajalbanica (Asteraceae), Phyllanthus junceus (Euphorbiaceae), Pisidium cymosum (Myrtaceae), Purdiacea cubensis (family?), Roigella correifolia (Rubiaceae), Tabebuia leptopoda (Bignoniaceae) and Tetrazygia coriacea (Melastomataceae). On ridges and slopes the shrub layer is poorly developed and grasses dominate the field layer, but in the valleys the shrub layer is usually very dense and ferns become conspicuous field layer species. Of the many serpentine endemics associated with these forests Agave cajalbanensis (Agavaceae), Brya ebebus (Fabaceae), Buxus wrightii (Buxaceae), Eugenia rigidifolia (Myrtaceae), Jacquinia brunnescens (Theophrastaceae), Machaonia dumosa (Rubiaceae), Malpighia horrida (Malpighiaceae), Plinia dermatodes (Myrtaceae), Rheedia fruticosa (Hypericaceae) and Zanthoxylum dumosum (Rutaceae) are characteristic.  Pinus cubensis forests are also found on serpentine soils but are more xerothermic and can be found, for example, in the Sagua-Baracoa uplands. They are extremely rich in endemic species (about 68% of the flora) with many Cuban endemics.  Characteristic among these are Anemia coriacea (Anemiaceae), Bumelia cubensis (Sapotaceae), Dracaena cubensis (Agavaceae), Guetardia calyptrata (Rubiaceae), Heptanthus cordifolius (Asteraceae), Ouratea straita (Ochnaceae) and Vaccinium cubense (Ericaceae). Beneath the closed canopy there is usually a dense shrub layer and tall field layer. Pinus tropicalis forest is confined to the western coast of Isla de Pinos, north of Lanier Swamp in the Guanahacabibes Peninsula and the southern plain of Isla del Rio. In the latter location the canopy also includes the endemic taxa Chaetolepis cubensis (Melastomataceae) and Colpothrinax wrightii (Arecaceae) and various other species.

Halophytic Vegetation of Northern Venezuela

On the coastal alluvial plain at Chichiriviche in northern Venezuela the saline vegetation ranges from mangrove on the lower shore to deciduous forest transition zones on the landward limits but in between there is a variety of halophylic vegetation. These include flooded areas dominated by Cyperaceae, Batis maritima-Sesuvium protulacastrum zones, halophytic grassland dominated by Sporobolus virginicus, and small islands often dominated by Conocarpus erectus.

Mangrove Zone
This the lowest vegetation zone is dominated by tall mangrove vegetation mainly Avicennia germinans and Rhizophora mangle but with scattered Laguncularia racemosa.

Flooded areas dominated by Cyperaceae
These occur where fresh water accumulates during the wet season. The vegetation is dominated by species of Cyperaceae such as Eleocharis geniculala, Eleocharis nutans Fymbristylis cymosa and Fymbristylis spadicea. Some species, such as Nymphaea sp tend to be ephemeral and disappear during the dry season.

Batis maritima-Sesuvium protulacastrum zones
Zones dominated by these two succulent halophytes typically border salt-pans and flats which are often devoid of vegetation but temporarily flood after heavy rain. 

Halophytic grassland dominated by Sporobolus virginicus
These zones, typically elevated 5-10 cm above the salt-flat, are dominated by the saltmarsh grass Sporobolus virginicus. Oxycarpha suaedifolia is often intermixed with the grass together with isolated patches of Acanthocereus tetragonus and Opuntia zventiana.

Small islands often dominated by Conocarpus erectus
These are usualy in the order of 3-10 m in diameter and elevated up to 40 cm above the salt-flats. The vegetation is frequently dominated Conocarpus erectus, a species often associated with mangoves, and can reach heights of upto 2 m. A frequent associate is the columnar cactus Subpilosocereus ottonis. On other islands isolated stands of non-halophytic trees such as Capparis hastata, Maytenus karstenii and Prosopis juliflora may occur. Another occasional species is the cactus Pereskia guamacho, but the epiphyte Tillandsia flexuosa may be abundant. The floor of these islands is usually dominated by dense thickets of Bromelia humilis with scattered tufts of Sporobolus virginicus. Batis maritima-Sesuvium protulacastrum vegetation typically characterises the zones where these islands merge with the salt plains.

Deciduous woodland Transition Zones
These zones have been isolated from the main forest by erosive influences of running water during humid years, but also to some extent by human infiuence. The erosion reduces soil levels bringing it into contact with the brackish water table. The borders are characterised by Caesalpinia coriaria, Capparis hastata, Capparis odoratissima, Capparis pachaca, Erythroxylon cumanense, Jacquinia revoluta, Maytenus karenii, Prosopis juliflora and shrubs such as Croton sp and Pereskia guamacho. Occasionally there are also dense thickets of the terrestrial bromeliads Bromelia humilis and Bromelia chrysantha. Epiphytes include the bromeliads Tillandsia flexuosa and Tillandsia ecurvata and the orchids Brassovala nodosa and Schomburgkia humboldtiana.


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